Time for Truth and Justice campaigners protest against the Bill outside the Northern Ireland Office at Erskine House in Belfast. PA
legacy bill

Six families launch High Court challenge over Troubles Legacy Bill

Each family had relatives killed during the Troubles.

A GROUP OF families have launched a High Court challenge to the UK government’s controversial Legacy Bill.

The Bill will give a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to former terrorists who co-operate with a truth-recovery commission.

But six families, who all had relatives killed during the Troubles, have lodged judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the legislation and its compatibility with international human rights standards.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill has been passed into law and is awaiting royal assent which, if granted, will mean all all future civil cases and inquests will be halted.

All of the main political parties in Northern Ireland and victims’ groups are opposed to the Bill.

In the latest legal challenge to its passing, Madden & Finucane Solicitors has released a statement announcing that it has lodged judicial review proceedings for six
families “bereaved through State violence”. 

The applications will be lodged to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the coming weeks.

The High Court proceedings have been lodged on behalf of family members of Kathleen Thompson, Gervaise McKerr, Gerard Casey, Sam Marshall, Pearse Jordan and Gerard and Rory Cairns, all of whom were killed in the Troubles. 

Billy Thompson’s mother Kathleen Thompson was shot dead by a member of the Royal Green Jacket regiment in Derry on 6 November 1971. 

Jonathan McKerr, son of Gervaise McKerr, was shot dead near Lurgan on
11 November 1982 when members of an elite firearms unit of the RUC, fired
more than 100 rounds into a car driven by McKerr killing him and his two

All three were unarmed, according to the challenge, and an inquest into their deaths has never been concluded.

Gerard Casey is taking the challenge on behalf of his widow Una Eakin, who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on 4 April 1989 in Rasharkin, north Antrim.

One of the weapons used in the killing was a VZ58 assault rifle imported into the
north of Ireland by “a UDA intelligence officer and paid agent of the British
Army’s Force Research Unit”, Madden & Finucane Solicitors said,

In 2022 the Police Ombudsman published a report which found ‘collusive behaviour’ between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in his murder.

Linda Hewitt’s sister Sam Marshall is taking the case over her sister’s Linda Hewitt’s murder by loyalist paramilitaries on 7 March 1990 in Lurgan.

Teresa Jordan, mother of Pearse Jordan, shot dead by the RUC on the Falls

Road, Belfast on 25 November 1992 and her son Pearse Jordan is also part of the High Court challenge. 

Eamon Cairns has taken the challenge on behalf of his sons Gerard and Rory Cairns who were murdered in their home by the mid Ulster UVF in October 1993.

As with the Una Eakin murder, VZ58 assault rifles were used in the

Last May, a file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the killings but the investigation will be halted if the Legacy Bill is finalised in law.

Additional reporting by PA

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